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Continue the Resale Royalty scheme for Australian Artists

☛ By signing this petition, I want it made clear that I support the Resale Right for Artists in Australia and I call on the Attorney-General & Federal Arts Minister George Brandis to uphold this very important principle for artists, which will build a stronger and more professional creative sector in this country for decades to come.

In June 2010, the resale royalty scheme began in Australia providing artists with recognition of their ongoing rights in their art. 

This landmark scheme helps artists, particularly remote Indigenous artists, to receive 5% income from their artworks as they are sold again and again.

The scheme was reviewed last year and artists are very concerned that the current Federal Government might scrap it. Read more about what the scheme has achieved and please provide your support for its continuation.

One of the main reasons the scheme was brought into law was to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists who were often selling their artworks for very low sums of money – so while their art increased in value enormously, they never earned any of that revenue. Many were living in poverty while their artwork was trading for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Musicians and writers have similar protections in place for their work under copyright laws.

Since the scheme began it has generated:

  • ✔ More than $2.28 million in royalties for more than 820 artists 
  • ✔ Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artists have received 50% of the total royalties generated 
  • ✔ Of the 50 artists who have received most money under the scheme, 26 are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • ✔ Lowest royalty: $50
  • ✔ Highest royalty: $55,000 
  • ✔ Most royalties have been between $50 and $500 
  • ✔ While there were costs associated with setting it up, the royalties generated for artists have already exceeded the funding provided by the Government for implementation.

Almost 70 other countries around the world including the United Kingdom and all other European Union members have similar schemes in place for artists. The United States and China are currently moving towards adopting similar schemes.

What artists say about the scheme

Melbourne artist Mandy Martin said on www.resale-right.org: “Even small amounts of funding generated from the acknowledgement of artist’s rights through copyright and resale royalties are important and help support artists who usually have very low incomes and, for many Indigenous Australian artists, live in parlous health and housing conditions in remote communities.

“My first resale royalty was a healthy sum of money and it seemed morally appropriate to me, that as it was a work which had graced a large company’s boardroom for quite a long time and was passing to another collection, I should know of that transfer of ownership and also receive recompense. I am pleased to know my children will similarly receive those royalties from resale of my work, after I die.”

Kamahi Djordon King comes from Katherine. A member of the Gurindji Tribe, his paintings are inspired by his country and family, stories that are passed down from his grandfather and the world he sees around him.

He told www.resale-right.org: “The resale right is important to me as I feel it is a form of respect for the artist and an appreciation of the work. In my industry, sadly, the 5% resale could even be more than the artist was paid for it in the first place.”

Daughter and beneficiary of artist Russell Drysdale, Mrs Lynne Clarke, has donated her royalty payments to the Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellowship which supports people working in Indigenous health and welfare.

Mrs Clarke said she felt the donation was a good way of using royalties from the sale of her father’s paintings to help the Aboriginal communities that inspired so much of his work.

“I like the idea that, if there are royalty payments from the resale of an artwork, it can go towards helping the artist or, as in my case, giving back to the community,” Mrs Clarke said.

Alice Springs artist Dorothy Napangardi, who won the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 2001, sadly passed away on 1 June 2013. Her works are quite popularly selling on the secondary market. Mother to a large family, her children are now benefitting from the royalties from her estate.

In a survey about the scheme by the National Association for the Visual Arts, 90.3% of artists thought the recognition of ongoing rights was an important benefit of the scheme. 70.1% said that earning income was a valued benefit and 93.8% said they thought the scheme should be expanded so they would be eligible for resale royalty payments when their art sold overseas.

Artists gave the following responses to the question: How has the Resale Royalty been of value to you?

  • ● It's a great way of keeping track of what's happening to the art.
  • ●The money is always useful – but knowing what resales are taking place is also of value.
  • ● Has helped me to pay debts.
  • ● Acknowledgment of professional integrity as with most other creative persons in all fields who receive professional financial royalties.
  • ● I was amazed and delighted to receive the amount. It also allowed me to track a sale of a long forgotten work that had been painted so many years before the advent of computers etc. It also reaffirmed that I was included in the history of art in that auction records showed the sale and payment and we don't have a lot of historical records of artists and their works in Oz.
This petition was delivered to:
  • Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts
    Senator George Brandis QC


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